This practice-based research project will explore experimental music practices of Middle Eastern female sound artists; its title —‘Heya’or هي means ‘she’ in Arabic. It folds around three cities Cairo, Tehran and Beirut, which were the nuclei of the Arab and Green Springs of 2011 and subsequent protests in 2019; have also been a hotbed of subversive music ever since. It is my hypothesis that experimental music such as phonography (field recording based sounds) and computer-based music, produced by women in these coinciding yet disparate contexts is concomitant with their political activism. There is a paucity of written work on these artists, their experiences and motivations. This research aims to reveal this activity and elucidate the resilience and significance of breaking from sonic norms as a mode of resistance and community-building through recorded technologically mediated, as well as live music.
Co-creation, a collective artistic practice, and exploiting nonverbal communication inherent in musical improvisational composition will enable an exchange of experience and knowledge rarely mobilised by traditional research methods. Networked Music Performance will form a considerable part of the practice because of the democratising nature of this collective creative process (see Knotts 2015:50).
The project is lead by Jilliene Sellner and has been granted Chase DTP funding as a PhD supervised by Holly Rogers and Iris Garrelfs at the Music Department at Goldsmiths University, London from Autumn 2020 (previously guided and supervised by Thor Magnusson and Mimi Haddon at the University of Sussex).